PFT 2019 storyline No. 3: Will the NFC catch up to the Rams?
The Rams rocketed to the top of the NFC in 2018. In 2019, will the rest of the NFC close the gap?
The signs already exist to suggest that coach Sean McVay and company may have a hard time distancing themselves from the rest of the pack, both in their division and in the rest of the conference. If the 2019 version of running back Todd Gurley no longer performs like the 2017 version of running back Todd Gurley, more pressure will be placed on the rest of the offense, starting with quarterback Jared Goff. And there are real questions regarding whether the rest of the offense can pick up the slack.
Some wonder whether, as evidenced by the Patriots holding the Rams to three points in Super Bowl LIII, defenses may be figuring out the McVay offense. Which puts extra pressure on McVay to, as Chris Simms would say, self-scout himself in order to figure out where the flaws in the offense reside -- and, at the same time, how to exploit defenses that are shifting their focus to take away things that McVay/Goff/Gurley like to do.
It’s one thing for McVay to come up with new concepts and plays; it’s another for Goff to execute them. Goff’s failure to spot and then to deliver an accurate throw to a wide-ass open Brandin Cooks in Super Bowl LIII should haunt Goff and McVay, and it should raise questions as to whether, when confronted with a championship opportunity, Goff will be suited to seize it.
That may not be an issue in 2019, if the Rams find themselves in a slog against the likes of the Seahawks and maybe the 49ers in the NFC West, and likewise in a fight for home-field advantage with the likes of the Eagles or Cowboys or Bears or Saints or whoever rises up in the other three divisions.